The interview process for Stratford's next superintendent progressed and Janet Robinson became increasingly attracted to the district.
"The priorities are kids and how kids are achieving," Robinson, the current Newtown superintendent who will take the helm in Stratford July 1, said after the Board of Education Wednesday officially approved her appointment.
Chairman Gavin Forrester said Robinson -- who was the top recommendation for the job before the Dec. 14 school shooting at Sandy Hook -- will receive a three-year contract with an annual compensation totaling $210,000, which is "toward the bottom" when compared with what other districts in Fairfield County pay their head of schools.
Former Stratford Superintendent Irene Cornish -- who retired at the end of 2012 after nine years at the post -- took home a total of $191,000 in 2012. Last February, when the search for the next superintendent began, a Stratford Patch poll found that 81 percent of readers believed "$200,000 is competitive enough to attract a qualified superintendent."
"We got a fair contract," said Forrester, adding that he commends Robinson for her ambition to lead a district with about 1,700 more students than Newtown. "It shows her willingness to prove what she can do."
And what's more, she's on Twitter and uses the social media site to communicate with her district, he said.
More than 20 candidates submitted resumes to the Superintendent Search Committee which conducted four rounds of interviews and "extensive" reference checks, according to Forrester. Robinson said she got the first callback from the committee in October.
"Through this process, Dr. Robinson rose to the top of a very competitive group," Forrester wrote in a letter to the community earlier this week.
Robinson has been the head of Newtown schools since 2008. Her tenure has seen both national praise and controversy, especially since the Dec. 14 shooting. She testified in Washington, DC, recently received the Peace Islands Educator of the Year award, and will be honored as Superintendent of the Year by the University of Connecticut in March.
But she faced criticism at home from board members for her remarks on two Newtown elementary school choirs, and faced other contentious issues in the years before the shooting, including a long debate over bus contracts. In the summer, her contract was extended by two years rather than the standard three.
On Wednesday, Robinson said she's excited to get going in Stratford, a school district she is not entirely unfamiliar with. She said as deputy executive director at Cooperative Educational Services in Trumbull from 1997 to 2002, she worked with Stratford educators and was impressed with how technology was being used in schools.
"They were always in the forefront," said Robinson, adding that she plans to keep technology a priority in the district.
Interim Superintendent Margaret Lasek will continue to serve in that position until Robinson officially comes on as superintendent on July 1.